Mental Health At Home
Being stuck in the house with your children--young or old, can leave us all a bit flustered. Here are a few things that can help our mental health and our children's mental health in this trying time. Make alterations to fit their needs and age(s).
Make a Calm Down Bucket. When children have BIG feelings, have a bucket ready with things that would make them calm down. Let them help you make the bucket. Stuff it full of things like books, stuffed animals, blankets, coloring pages, puzzles, snacks, squishy balls, play-doh, earphones for music, perhaps an iPad to practice a mindful activity, or yoga (for older kids...and even adults).
Calm Down Corner: Find a "happy place" for the calm down bucket; a place where your child feels safe. Let them go to the corner to calm themselves. When they're ready, have them name their emotion. You can use pictures showing different emotions--have them tell you how they felt, and why they felt that way. Ask, how did you know you felt that way--did your fists clench, did your tummy hurt, did your face start to feel hot, etc.? What can we do to help you not feel like this later? What can you do when you feel this way? There are so many different ways to make your Calm Down Corner. Check out:
Rebecca Eanes is the creator of www.positive-parents.org and author of The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting. In her new book, Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, Rebecca shares her hard-won insights on giving up the conventional parenting paradigm to reconnect heart to heart with her children.Because parenting is about so much more than discipline, Rebecca hits on important topics ...
Extra calm down strategies:
- Count to 5
- Take a deep breath
- Blow into your hands
- Place hands in pockets
- Identify antecedents to anger
- Make a fest, then relax hand.
- Do a body scan.
- Ask for a hug.
After your child/teen has acted out, practice restoration. Restorative Practice involves asking questions, such as:
- What happened?
- What were you thinking about at that time?
- What have your thoughts been since the incident?
- Who do you think has been affected by your actions and how?
- What do you need to do now to make things right?
Is your child worried? Practice strategies to help them cope. I've done these even with HS age kids--they can't think about their anger or stress when they are focusing on answering these questions. In the end, you'll have a calmer child to talk to:
- Name 5 colors you see?
- What are 4 sounds you hear?
- What are 3 shapes you see?
- What are 2 things you can hold in your hand?
- What is 1 thing you can do right now?
With any emotion you/our children may be feeling, there are several ways to help deal with these emotions. Rather than letting your 'irrational thoughts' take over. Practice these 8 ways to deal with your emotions:
- Take a time out. When you feel your emotions start to flare up, take charge. Don't let those emotions free--you'll say or do things you'll regret later. Let your family know, or have your children let you know when they feel like they need a time out. You can revisit the situation later (if the problem even still exists).
- Flip the script. Did someone look at you "the wrong way". Do you feel like they're mad at you now, or you did something wrong? Before you react, think for a minute. How do I know they looked at me in "the wrong way". How do I know they're mad at me? How do I know that I did something wrong? Did you do anything for them to be mad? Probably not. The person you feel angry at, or worried about, may actually be in deep thought. They may have no clue that you're even worried, or upset. I find myself in deep thought often, my husband always assumes I'm mad at him. However, that's not true at all.
- Talk it out. Talk to someone you trust, or talk to yourself. Once you put your thoughts into words--you'll not only feel like a weight has been lifted, but you may also realize that what was going on inside your brain, actually sounds extremely silly when said out loud.
- Write it out. Start a journal and write down your emotions. Once you re-read them, you'll be able to spot the irrational or "stinking" thoughts you were having.
- Walk it out. Go for a walk around the neighborhood, around your house. Do some sort of movement. 15 minutes of movement can change your entire outlook.
- Breathe it out. Practice breathing exercises. YouTube has MANY great Mindfulness videos, for adults and children.
- Positive self talk. Tell yourself the things you love about yourself, or tell others. If you're feeling down remember--you're awesome! What are you awesome at? Drawing, dancing, being 'fun', being kind? Or do you love something about yourself--perhaps you have pretty eyes, great hair. I personally, love my shoulders and enjoy showing them off. You can also practice this at dinner. Go around the table and have everyone name something they love about themselves, or have everyone talk about their favorite part of the day.
- Find your happy place. Find a place that makes you feel 'happy' when you're feeling down, help your child/teen do the same. For me, my happy place is my bed. Your happy place may be the beach--and just because you are quarantined, doesn't mean you can't picture yourself at the beach.
A great resource for older kids/parents to read is, "Managing Your Crazy Self", written by Randy Guttenberger. With MYS you have an instinctive, small brain--your ostrich brain, and a rational, conscious brain--your rhino. We use these resources in our home, and they work amazingly well.
- Have your family name their crazy self. Your crazy self, is your undesirable emotions and behaviors. Choose a silly name that will make you smile. My 'crazy self' is--Princess Glitter Sparkles. Giving your 'crazy self' a name that is silly, helps remove any fear of being threatened. This is fun for kids! Talk about if they're using their small brain? Or their BIG RHINO brain? They don't want to use their small brain. They want to be a BIG STRONG RHINO. Often times during an argument--I'll ask my children. "Hmmm are you using your small ostrich brain, or your big rhino brain?"
- Limit yourself to one gripe (angry thought, worry, or anxiety) per day. Have your entire family participate. This can be tough. If you notice yourself start to feel anxious, or angry, think if it is worth your time? Do you really want to use your one gripe on that situation?
- Schedule emotional stress for tomorrow. When you feel like you want to gripe or you're feeling stressed--and you've already used up your one gripe. Save it for tomorrow. Set your alarm for a specific time. Say--"I will mad tomorrow at 9 am." By tomorrow, that negative thought, or stress, won't feel as BIG--you may even find that, that emotion disappeared.
- Limit how much time you spend on any problem. Be efficient with your time. Do not sit and think about issues for too long--that's draining, and a waste of the day. "For example, if you get upset with someone, tell them you are upset and why. But don't feel you have to take action at that moment. Once you share your concern, reboot your thoughts and immediately look for some healthy action to reward yourself for speaking up and not reacting. You will be limiting your instinctive reactions, and you will give yourself time and space to act on a healthy thought instead. That's two positive changes for the effort of one!"--Randy Guttenberger
- Identify the best and worst energy times of your/your family members' day (these times may differ). Spend time, during your best energy time, on yourself--this can be as short as one minute, or as long as you'd like it. Do some little thing that makes you feel happy or accomplished, have your family do the same. Read, workout, watch your favorite Netflix show, etc. For everyone to give their best to the family, everyone has to do something to take care of their #1 (their own self). At the worst time of your/their day--when energy levels are low, don't do anything stressful, or take on big tasks. Instead, do some little things that will feed your energy--listen to a song, take a bite of chocolate, go outside--whatever makes you/them feel good. "Not giving yourself what feeds your mind, body, and spirit at these times means you are denying yourself (and others) your best. Why would you want to do that? Over time that will create stress and you will resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Give yourself your best every day if only for a few minutes. Look forward to enjoying that time."--Randy Guttenberger
- Have wind-down time. Do some yoga with your children--that's always fun, and can be quite funny.Or find a mindful activity on YouTube--we enjoy, "Be a Pond". My children also enjoy Moshi--an app you can download with a peaceful story--it usually puts them right to sleep.
Another great resource is:
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